Thursday, May 28, 2015

My Favorite Ice Cream Ever

The menu where dreams come true.
My first visit to Toscanini’s in Cambridge, MA came during the summer of 2009, an experience I posted about when this blog was not yet two years old. Though mostly a wood-and-brick hipster chic spot, they have two snazzy-looking couches. I sat in one and observed the MIT students doing their homework with spoons in hand. I recall marveling at how I was in the presence of some of the most brilliant minds of our time. Not the students, no; the makers of the best ice cream in the world.

In the years since then, I’ve visited the Boston area a handful of times, even relocated there for a month, and each time the item at the top of my to-do list, right above dinner at Al Dente, has been Toscanini’s. I couldn’t name all of the flavors I’ve tried over the years, but I could tell you that there is rarely a flavor I sample that I do not purchase as a full scoop because each taste, big and small, only further proves that they are masters at their craft.

B3, Blackberry Lime
and Khulfee
Ranging from classic (Cocoa Pudding, one of several chocolate options) to unique twists (Burnt Caramel) to unorthodox (Khulfee, the delicious cardamom-heavy Indian dessert), Toscanini’s beats out all other ice cream shops in nearly every flavor category. Their Chocolate No. 3 is among the richest, darkest chocolate ice creams I’ve ever had, more so than many gelati. It is so popular that it has its own shirt dedicated to it and, presumably, sells out quickly given the fact I’ve only managed to catch it on their menu once. Their Blackberry Lime without question is the best fruit ice cream I’ve ever consumed, besting even sorbets. The lime elevates the flavor to tart peaks over the tangy blackberry base, bringing every region of taste bud to ecstasy. Their Brown Butter ice cream is my favorite flavor of all time, a scoop whose mouthfeel and fullness of flavor are the model of decadence. (For those seeking Brown Butter, you are more likely to see B3 on the menu—brown butter, brown sugar and brownie ice cream—another superlative-earning flavor, the best brownie mix-in I’ve tasted.)

This month, I had the privilege of going to Toscanini’s twice. The first time I ordered their largest size, 2 Scoops, feeling simultaneously fully sated—they know how much is enough—and wishing a larger size had been available to allow for more flavor combinations. The second time I went full glutton, ordering 2 Scoops and a 1 Scoop, feeling triumphant afterwards for seizing the moment to maximum enjoyment.

It is a rare occurrence to revisit an old favorite and find that it actually exceeds your already high expectations, leaving you completely fulfilled. That consistency of product, in addition to their impressive use of imagination and dedication to finding multiple notes to hit with each flavor, are what make Toscanini’s my favorite ice cream ever.

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